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It Only Makes Sense
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Dr. Perry M. Smith, M.D.

May is both National High Blood Pressure Education Month and Stroke Awareness Month. It only makes sense to acknowledge both of these disease processes at the same time because when you control your blood pressure you greatly reduce your risk of stroke---which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
Currently, 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure and this silent killer can damage your heart, brain, and kidneys without a single symptom.  Over half of the adults that actively have high blood pressure still don’t have their blood pressure under control.  Good news, there are things in your life that you can take control of and your blood pressure is one of them.
Knowing your blood pressure numbers is the first step in taking control of your blood pressure.  You can work with your health care team to keep it that way. Listed below are the ranges for normal and elevated blood pressures.
Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults (measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg)

Category                        Systolic                         Diastolic
                               (top number)                           (bottom number)
Normal                                Less than 120          And             Less than 80
Prehypertension                       120–139                Or              80–89
High blood pressure
Stage 1                               140–159                Or              90–99
Stage 2                               160 or higher          Or              100 or higher
The treatment goal for most adults is to get and keep blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg. For adults who have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the goal is to get and keep blood pressure below 130/80 mmHg.
Healthy lifestyle habits can help you control high blood pressure. These habits include:
· Follow a healthy diet. Limit the amount of sodium (salt) and alcohol that you consume.
· Be physically active. Routine physical activity can lower high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems.
· Maintain a healthy weight. Staying at a healthy weight can help you control high blood pressure and reduce your risk for other health problems.
· Quit smoking. Smoking can damage your blood vessels and raise your risk for high blood pressure. Smoking also can worsen health problems related to high blood pressure.
· Learn to manage and cope with stress. Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve your emotional and physical health.
If you combine healthy lifestyle habits, you can achieve even better results than taking single steps.  You may find it hard to make lifestyle changes. Start by making one healthy lifestyle change and then adopt others.  Some people can control their blood pressure with lifestyle changes alone, but many people can’t. Keep in mind that the main goal is blood pressure control.  If your doctor prescribes medicines as a part of your treatment plan, keep up your healthy lifestyle habits. They will help you better control your blood pressure.
Your health care provider is your partner in promoting a healthy lifestyle, use them.  Ask questions; visit them regularly for they only want what is best to keep you healthy.
Resource for this article and for more information, contact: Health Information Center | National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute | 301.592.8573 | |